David’s “Flight”

David alludes to the idea of his “flight” multiple times before leaving for Paris in the novel. First, when speaking of his life after being with Joey: “I began, perhaps, to be lonely that summer and began, that summer, the flight which has brought me to this darkening window” (EN 227). Second, when he thwarts his father’s attempt to grow closer to him: “Perhaps he had supposed that my growing up would bring us closer together–whereas, now that he was trying to find out something about me, I was in full flight from him. I did not want him to know me” (EN 232). Finally, when describing his plans to leave America: “Perhaps, as we say in America, I wanted to find myself…I think now that if I had any intimation that the self I was going to find would turn out to be only the same self from which I had spent so much time in flight, I would have stayed at home” (EN 236). It seems that this attempt at flight from his true self and the disclosure of his queerness was unsuccessful. 

He seems to be torn between the ideas that he ran to Paris to live into queerness or rather ran away from America in order to cure himself of his queerness. I think that whichever reality of his flight is true, he failed at both. Despite his best efforts to be ‘the man’ he wants to be, he cannot quench his sexual desire for men. He repeatedly fails himself when he decides he is going to quit Giovanni and ‘make a wife’ of Hella. At the same time, he never truly experiences what it might be like to embrace his queerness. For this, I feel he can never reciprocate the love Giovanni had for him. He wants to, but his fear disables him from any true flight in one direction. He instead stays stagnant, paralyzed, living trapped between two worlds. This is what causes his ultimate ‘death’ in a sense. For this, I feel the most empathy for David.

I would argue that it is his Foucaultian power that disables him in such a way. David seems to be read as a character with accessibility to immense power that neglects to utilize it. Foucault might disagree, and instead state that David is using his power. If power is seen as diffused, one can even exert power over themselves. David’s fear of retribution for his queerness drives his incapacity to love or fully embrace himself, keeping him ‘stuck.’ It is then not in spite of David’s power that he receives the fate he does but rather because of it. 

One thought on “David’s “Flight””

  1. Hey Megan! I definitely agree with what you’ve said here about how David is constantly running from his true self. In his mind, he thinks of his “flight” as just trying to “find himself,” but instead, all that this accomplishes is that he avoids ever coming to terms with who he is and what he wants. He represses his wants and needs because he is so terrified of what outcomes he will have to face, and in the end, he has not found himself but has only caused himself more trauma and pain. I also like your point about Foucaultian power and how this applies to David, and regardless of which way you look at David’s power in this story, it is clear that he ends up suffering because of the way that it works in his life.

Comments are closed.